Azzurra Annunziata and Riccardo Vecchio
University of Naples “Parthenope”

Healthier food products have entered the global markets with force in the past few years and have rapidly gained market shares. The food industry has reacted to this trend by developing a growing variety of new products with health-related claims and images. This article, applying factor and cluster analysis, elicited consumer behavior toward functional foods (FF). Data were gathered through a quantitative survey conducted on 400 Italian food shoppers. Principal components’ analysis highlighted the key role played by the perception of healthiness in determining shoppers’ attitudes toward FF. Cluster analysis revealed three groups of respondents with different levels of confidence, satisfaction, and perceived healthiness of FF. In addition, demographic characteristics appeared to be only partially correlated with the acceptance of these products, a fact that confirms previous literature. Findings bring to light interesting market opportunities for policy makers and food companies.

Key words: Italian consumers, functional foods, factor analysis, cluster analysis.